SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A jury found former Chinatown crime boss Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow guilty Friday of murder-conspiracy charges after a lengthy trial seemingly cut from a Hollywood script.
In addition to ordering the 2006 fatal shooting of a prominent Chinese businessman, 56-year-old Chow was convicted of conspiring to kill a rival gang member and running a criminal enterprise, along with 159 counts of money laundering and conspiracy to buy and sell stolen goods.
After a nearly two-month trial, the jury of eight women and four men deliberated for just over two days.
“We feel like we have been stabbed in the back by the jury,” Chow’s attorney J. Tony Serra said after the verdict. “Understand why we have suffered this conviction. It was predicated on the testimony of five snitches that no rational human being would believe or extend credibility to. Welcome to the federal system of justice in criminal cases. This is snitch heaven.”
Chow stared ahead, smiling painfully as the verdict was read. A member of the defense team, Tyler Smith, patted his shoulder. He will be sentenced on March 23 and faces life in prison for racketeering alone, not including the other 161 counts of which he was convicted.
“Our client was noble in his acceptance of defeat,” Serra said, “He comforted us. He smiled. He was not unnerved. He shook all of our hands.”
Promising to appeal, Serra quoted Chow as saying, “We will prevail in the second round.”
Chow had been among 28 other defendants, including former state Sen. Leland Yee, whom the FBI rounded up after a raid on March 26, 2014.
The undercover probe into political corruption and racketeering involved an agent posing as a New Jersey mobster named David Jordan who spent three years getting close to Chow and conducting criminal activity with Chow’s associates in the Chinese fraternal organization Ghee Kung Tong.
Prosecutors added murder charges to the indictment weeks before the case went to trial in November 2015.
The testimony of cooperating witnesses played a large role for the government, particularly for the murder charges that accused Chow of giving the nod for the hit on 56-year-old Allen Leung, who was killed in his Chinatown import-export shop on Feb. 27, 2006.
Smith said the defense was unable to show all the evidence it had that proved his client’s innocence with respect to that killing. “Raymond Chow did not kill Allen Leung,” Smith said. “There was a lot of evidence we were unable to put on, other more viable suspects. I am 100 percent positive that Raymond Chow had zero involvement in the murder of Allen Leung.”
Prosecutors claimed Chow ordered the hit on Leung, a dragonhead of the GKT, because he refused to loan Chow roughly $100,000 from the group’s coffers.
Chow took over as dragonhead of the GKT shortly after the funeral.
Co-operating witnesses Cam Wong, Joe Chanthavong and Thau Benh Cam all testified that Chow arranged Leung murder.
Chow was also convicted of conspiring to murder Jim Tat Kong, a rival in the Hop Sing Tong, a gang to which Chow also belonged.
Kong was found fatally shot in 2013. While prosecutors said they did not believe Chow was involved in the murder, they do claim that Chow directed one of his underlings, a cooperating witness named Andy Li, to find someone to kill him in 2011.
Chow’s other principle attorney Curtis Briggs said the Kong forensic evidence was irrelevant to the charges.
“They admitted in closing argument they’re not saying he’s connected to that killing at all,” Briggs said. “How would you like to go to trial for a charge, and have them parade a bunch of dead bodies who were brutally murdered in front of a jury when they’re not even accusing you of being involved in it?”
While Serra said he blamed the jury for believing the testimony of witnesses like Li, Briggs said he felt hamstrung by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, particularly for his alleged cutting of the defense’s witness list.
Briggs added that he also felt stymied during cross-examination.
“If any of our sons or daughters were subjected to a trial like this, we’d be horrified,” Briggs said,
Born in Hong Kong as Kwok Gheung Chow, the defendant immigrated to the United States at the age of 16.
He received an 11-year prison sentence in 1978 for robbery but was released after serving seven.
In 1986, Chow was charged with 28 criminal counts of assault, attempted murder and other violent crimes, and he served three more years in prison.
In 1992 he was arrested again on racketeering charges, and was sentenced to 24 years in 1995. He got out early in 2002 after testifying against his former boss Peter Chong, head of the Wo Hop To triad.
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